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Volvo XC90 vs MB M Class vs Acura MDX vs Lexus RX 350 vs BMW X5 vs Cadillac SRX



  • my dealer can get MDX in OCT. even for ML320 i have to wait 70 days as i need 3rd row seats which are not installed automatically.

    Has anyone used 3rd row seats in ML320???
  • I own a 2001 RX300 w/Navigation. I did check out the ML320 before making my purchase. The 3rd row of seats are extremely crowded in the ML320. I don't recommend getting it. If you want 3rd row of seats, get the MDX. Personally, I think the best deals out there are the RX300 and the MDX. If you don't mind spending more, get the X5. I think that ML320 is very over-priced. You can get a fully-loaded RX300 w/navigation for ~$37,000 ( The RX is the most luxurious of the bunch, while the MDX is the most practical. Have fun shopping!
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    The MDX's 3rd row is even worse than the ML's and the 2nd row cannot be permanently moved forward to provide the 3rd row passengers with more legroom like the ML. An average size adult can sit in the ML's 3rd row seat for about 45 minutes without too much difficulty.

    The '01 MLs can be had at below MSRP right now, so it would be around the same price as the RX.

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  • thor8thor8 Posts: 303
    While seating capacity is one consideration, there is more to it than that, are we talking about SUV's in here, rigth? The discussion degenerated to something like a discussion of sedans, what rides better, what is softer, what is more confy and gadgety, what about the utilitarian aspect of it? Ater all we are talking about SUV's, a ruged vehicle that can go off the road, a vehicle used to tow heavy loads under more difficult conditions than the highway, a vehicle that fits the philosophy that is better to have and not need than need and not have, if you agree with that you will see that the ML is the strongest and most rugged of the group, with a heavy ladder frame, with a deep reduction transfer case that none of the other offer, with the low reduction the ML can pull heavy loads up hill without straining the transmission or the engine, the ML is a truck that rides like a car, if we consider that aspect it offers the best of both worlds, after all we are talking about UTILITY vehicles.

    The strong point of the ML is it's engine transmission combo and good supension, if it was not the case it would never have won the Dakar rally in the Unmodified class, as is from the show room, 7000 km across the Sahara.
  • sdeamesdeame Posts: 14
    what zip code are you entering? i must live in the wrong area.

    any experiences with buying a RX300AWD these days? I am looking at lease or buy. Any prices found lately would be handy. I live in the Boston area
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Here's a hopefully more balanced perspective on the third row (I'll try; I'm not a host ;-). Speaking strictly from the perspective of the third row, it comes down to your general cargo needs, the type of passengers (adults, children) you'll be carrying when you need seven-passenger capability, etc. Both the ML and MDX have trade-offs when it comes to their third rows.

    Of course, all this should be balanced against your other priorities in a vehicle, whatever those may be.

    The ML's third row seat is roomier for adults than the MDX's, and you can push forward the second row for more third row legroom, though of course that compromises second row legroom. Access is much better in the ML because you can tumble forward the second row seat in sections. You also get rear quarter windows that can open. With a leather interior, the third row seat is leather not vinyl as in the MDX. You can also install just one of the third row seats, leaving some room for cargo. The headrests for the third row are better than the little ones in the MDX.

    On the other hand, the MDX's third row is permanently installed, and unlike the ML, can be conveniently folded away until needed, one seat a time. You don't have to decide to "reconfigure" your vehicle in advance. The ML's third row seats can be physically removed to maximize cargo room (the seats are not extremely heavy but certainly not lightweight) and you can store them somewhere in your garage -- assuming you have the room.

    When the third row is folded down in the MDX, the third row removed in the ML, and both second rows in use, the MDX has more useful cargo capacity. (When the second row is also folded down, the ML has slightly more cargo room, according to Car & Driver.) With the full third rows in use in both vehicles, the MDX has somewhat more useful cargo capacity behind the third row, though it's still no great shakes.

    As you can see, the third rows in both vehicles have their pluses and minuses, it comes down to how you're going to be using them.

    If you need more frequent seven-passenger capability and cargo room, you're probably better served with a roomier full-sized SUV or a minivan.

    Assuming you want to take advantage of the incentives to clear out the 2001 ML's (you definitely should be able to buy a 2001 for below invoice), and you want the third row, I would call around or at least make sure your dealership has called around. You mentioned it will take "70 days" to get a third-row ML320, which means they've got you in for a 2002? They're in relatively low supply but you might be able to locate a 2001 with a third row if you hurry. Your dealership may be able to get it transferred from the other dealership.
  • diploiddiploid Posts: 2,286
    Cargo room is measured by the car's dimensions, it doesn't measure the usefulness of the volume of cargo room. The ML may have a higher cargo rating, but that's because it has a high roof. The MDX is much wider though, rendering its lesser cargo room more useful.

    So if you have a lot of grocery bags, the cargo area of the MDX is more useful than that of the ML. But if you need to transport a barbeque grill, then the ML can hold it upright better.

    3rd seats are a nice feature in an SUV, but if you need to carry adults instead of kids, why not go for a minivan?
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    No, it's more than the ML320's "high roof." (And in fact, the MDX has a higher roof by 1.4 inches; the ML320 looks squatter because of its styling.) It's more about beltline and how the space inside is used.

    My comments on more "useful cargo room" is based on the beer case test as done by Car & Driver. There, boxes are loaded up no more than six inches above the beltline. The MDX fit 34/20/5 behind the first/second/third rows, the 2000 ML320 they tested without a third row seat, 36/15.

    Thus, the ML320 beat the MDX slightly for cargo room behind the front row, while the MDX beat the ML320 behind the second row.

    Thus, while the MDX is wider and very nearly 8" longer, the ML320 is certainly no slouch in the useable cargo volume wars, as the numbers above show. The MDX's second row seats do not fold down perfectly flat, leaving somewhat of a slope going to the first row, thus losing some useful cargo room.
  • rxcurerxcure Posts: 33
    I'm an RX owner so it's easy for me to provide objective comments on the ML / MDX cargo debate. I studied both vehicles and found the MDX has noticeably more useful room for the typical user (ie typical family). The key measure for most families is the cargo room with the second row in use. Here, William's beer case stats are a useful piece of data -- 20 cases for the MDX vs. 15 for the ML. That's 33% more room for the MDX. If you need lots of cargo room, get the MDX. (For completeness, I'm sure the RX has less than ML, and X5 would be even less.) Vehicles in this class have just a bit of cargo space with 3 rows in use. You need a roof-top cargo carrier and some small passengers if you intend to use these for a 7-person trip where people are bringing cargo. If you have a 5-person family, vehicles in this class can be more useful than all but the largest minivans, as the popular minivans generally require 3 rows of seating to fit 5 people (Chrysler I believe allows you to reconfigure seats to fit 5 with 2 rows, but middle seat user gets stuck with lap-belt only), whereas the SUV needs only 2 rows. This applies in spades to the MDX, is largely true for the ML, is only a little true for the RX, and is not applicable to X5.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Good discussion. FWIW, the X5 3.0i had 26/13 in the beer case test, the QX4 27/16, and the 2000 RX300 30/13.
  • tonychrystonychrys Posts: 1,310
    ..yer making me thirsty.

    Homer says: "Mmmm.... beer."
  • cheekscheeks Posts: 67
    This discussion has been very informative. However, I have not seen many comments about the X5. Can anyone provide me with some insight?
  • rxcurerxcure Posts: 33
    If driving excitement is top on your priority list, X5 wins hands-down in this category. To get that you give up some cargo room, you pay more, and the evidence I've seen says the X5 is suffering from new model reliability problems. I'm sure BMW will work out the kinks in production as did MB with the ML, but it's probably a riskier purchase if reliability is important to you. But if you love a tight-handling fast vehicle this is the best, probably followed by MDX/ML (depending on your taste for Japanese vs. European handling), with RX bringing up the rear in driving excitement. (For the record, the reason I bought my RX despite having just dinged its cargo and handling in recent posts relative to the other vehicles, is that it is a super-reliable vehicle, with nice luxury and safety and enough cargo room. Those were my preferences. MDX wasn't available when I purchased and I'd give it a hard look if I were buying now, though the MDX's width and lesser luxury and probably average reliability for first model-year would likely have RX win again for my preference set.)
  • diploiddiploid Posts: 2,286
    Besides the fake wood accents, I really don't see anything else that would strike the MDX as having less luxury than an RX300.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    There are a few other things too, such as vinyl for the 3rd row seats, and other portions of the first two rows of seats. I think the most significant complaint from owners about this is probably the hard plastic dash and instrument panels that you'll find. The RX has soft touch vinyl surfaces, as does the M-class (from MY2000 onwards). Heck, even the lowly Honda Civic has a soft touch dash. This will hopefully be improved upon in the near future.

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  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Yep the MDX does have a less luxurious interior than the RX. The hard plastic dash, molded with fake texturing, is the most obvious un-luxurious piece, as is the fake wood. The third-row seat being vinyl doesn't bother me, though, especially when it's mostly intended for kids and many people won't use them regularly; I'd rather take the cost savings.

    The MDX's interior is beat by even the 2000+ ML's, in terms of quality of materials (real wood, nicer leather). Though the ML's seats are hardly all leather with the hard, molded plastic shroud around most of the backs of the front seats -- rather chintzy, should at least have padded vinyl there.
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    The hard plastic actually in all MB vehicles (and has been even 20 years back) and is supposed to prevent anything from penetrating from the back of the front seats in the event of an accident. It's also supposed to be more durable against stratches. If you're a long time MB owner, you'll be right at home. However, if you come from a Toyota or Honda, you will definitely notice it.

    It defiinitely is cost savings too though...MB could've covered the plastic with vinyl it like does with the other MB cars, where it's not leather either, except maybe in the flagship S600 and CL600, or S55 and CL55. Instead, they chose to make all of the other things leather, such as the door side impact covers, the head restraints, and the map pockets.
  • wmquanwmquan Posts: 1,817
    Either way, it still isn't very attractive IMHO. I'd imagine they could prevent seat penetration in a more elegant way, and should have just covered it in vinyl as you mentioned they do in other vehicles.
  • I could use some help deciding which SUV to buy. I'm currently considering the MDX, RX300, ML320, QX4, Highlander, and maybe even the Sequoia. I currently drive a CL Type S, and my wife has a minivan (we're keeping the CL). She prefers the RX300, but I'm leaning towards the unavailable, sticker+++ priced MDX.

    I've read every available road test & user comments, and we've test driven all of the above. I really liked the Sequoia, but my wife thinks it's too big for her. We can't seem to get a deal on the Highlander, while the QX4 can be had for a decent price ($3K - 4K off $36K+ MSRP).

    Is anyone aware of any great bargains on 2001 models? I'm on the west coast if that makes a big difference. Thanks for any feedback...

  • You didn't say what your specific needs are, esp. passenger capacity and loading flexibility, but I am extremely happy with my MDX Touring.--my decision was between that & Odyssey EX, to replace my Windstar.
    One RX300 & Highlander disadvantage is load capacity is meager <900 lbs., versus about 1300 for MDX--my family of 4 alone totals about 750!! Obviously, it would be Very easy to overload the Toyotas. Max. cargo area of MDX with seats folded is immense, when that is top priority.
    Biggest surprise was that handling and agility for such a large vehicle! It goes where you point it, and acceleration is effortless, once you learn to be reasonably aggressive with the throttle-- a wonderful, Acura V-6 sound as it revs toward 6200 rpm. Can you say "fun to drive?!" BUT do not do this if your trying to get 18-20 mpg. Mine does get 23+ on the interstate at 70-75, which I think is great. More like 15 around town, though.
    Minivans are surely the most space-efficient, but MDX comes close when you consider its space for 2,3,4, or 5 (large adults) plus 1 or 2 seats for children or small adults, with ANY unused seating folding down for cargo!
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